Downers Grove, Ill. Telugu Association of Greater Chicago (TAGC) celebrated the Telugu New Year – Sri Jaya Nama Ugadi and Lord Rama’s birth – Sri Rama Navami on April 5th at Downers Grove North High School in Downers Grove, Illinois. The festivities were attended by 1300+ Telugu speaking people, U.S Congressman Brad Schneider and included performances by Telugu movie top singers Hema Chandra and Sravana Bhargavi.
The venue was centrally located within the Chicagoland area; parking was plenty and TAGC Executive committee did a wonderful job in providing appropriate instructions for all attendees. Visitors registered in an outer lobby which housed several booths for platinum sponsors and vendors for food, clothing and other knick knacks. All attendees received a wristband with an allocated seat number which made it convenient to find a seat in the packed auditorium that seats 1200.
Once inside the inner lobby members of the Youth Committee helped attendees purchase raffle tickets for the Grand Prize for the night. The raffle was led by Uma Katiki and Sunitha Rachapalli. All attendees received a gift bag which included a full color calendar designed by Srinivas Pedamallu that celebrates all styles of Indian dance and a toranam – a traditional Telugu hanging decoration. Both the inner and outer lobbies were decorated in traditional Telugu decorations which created a festive atmosphere. By dinner time, all seats were sold out. Registration was planned and coordinated by Ram Ade, Hari Raini, Padmarao Applaneni, Srinivas Chada, Narendar Chemarla and Ravi Upad. The stage was decorated with artistic banners depicting Ugadi, an idol of Lord Ganesha and drawings of spring flowers which created a vibrant atmosphere for the performances.
The cultural and entertainment program was coordinated by Sujatha Applaneni and Siva Pasumarti. It included traditional, Tollywood, Folk and Fusion dances, Keerthanas (devotional chanting), skits, and various other performances. These performances were choreographed and presented by various TAGC members and their children and created a feeling of nostalgia and celebration for all the attendees. MC duties for the night were handled wonderfully by Sujatha Katta, Rajeswari Manepalli, Sridevi Gaddam, Padma Madireddy, and Sandeep Kurapaty. Kids were ushered in by Malathi Damaraju and Kiran Mattey.
A meeting of Chicago Area Telugu Seniors (CATS) was held in an adjoining room where members discussed various matters. The meeting was facilitated by Bhargavi Nettem, Jagan Bukkaraju and Ramesh Garapaty and was attended by a number of distinguished seniors from the Chicagoland Telugu community. The seniors discussed various issues faced by the community and commended the efforts of TAGC in bringing the needs of seniors to the forefront.
Dinner was served during a break in the performances and was catered by Vishnu Vilas of Schaumburg. Items such as Ugadi pacchadi, bobbattu/bkashalu, gongura pulihora, and mango pappu gave attendees a taste of Ugadi back home. Planning and execution of dinner was coordinated by Raghav Jatla and Dinkar Karumuri and supported by Anji Reddy, Jagan Bukkaraju, Kalyan Anandula, KSN Reddy, and other TAGC BoDs.
Communications Committee Chair Dinkar Karumuri talked about the importance of the political process to our community and introduced local community leader and CEO of Siva Labs, a hi-tech incubator, Mr. Raja Krishnamoorthi. Mr. Krishnamoorthi knows the Telugu community well and wished the attendees all a happy Ugadi. He in turn introduced U.S. Congressman Brad Schneider who represents Illinois’ 10th Congressional District. Mr. Schneider talked about the virtues of community and remarked about the appropriateness of Ugadi pacchadi to life – the confluence of sweetness and bitterness and how that mix helps in making better communities and enriched lives. TAGC President Srinivas Pedamallu presented Mr. Schneider with a plaque showing appreciation from TAGC’s members.
The Grand Raffle was sponsored by Air India and was presented by Katherine Thorat. One lucky winner won a round trip ticket to India and restaurant coupons from Indian Harvest in Naperville and Priya Restaurant in Schaumburg.
All the wonderful pictures were covered by our TAGC BoD Murthy Pisipati and all the Youth Volunteers were planned and coordinated by Vandana Reddy and Uma Katiki. Our Sports Committee Chair Ravi Upad and TAGC President Srinivas Pedamallu thanked all the Chess and Bowling tournament Winners and presented medals by Singer HemaChandra.
The highlight of the night was musical entertainment by Telugu playback singer Hema Chandra supported by Sravana Bhargavi. Both of them brought their many talents to the stage in singing, dancing, engaging the crowd and providing a jolt of energy to the event. The songs they performed included nostalgic numbers as well as the latest songs. They showed their versatility in singing songs ranging from melodies to fast dance numbers.
The event was supported by ATA and its president Karunakar Madhavaram invited the audience to ATA’s national event to be held in Philadelphia in July 2014.
The night concluded with the singing of Jana Gana Mana – the Indian National Anthem.
TAGC Cultural Committee, Executive Committee and the Board of Directors would like to thank all the attendees for attending and making this event a grand success, our platinum sponsors – PMSI, New York Life, Dr. Surekha Sakala and all other calendar and digital sponsors and volunteers in supporting not just the night’s events but also TAGC in general with their valuable contributions.